All In

Everesting – Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and ride repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 29,029 feet – the equivalent height of Mt Everest.

That is my next challenge. Looking to attempt it Labor Day weekend.

Why? That’s the first question people typically ask. Well, I’ve always been someone to do things all or none, all in or not at all, and to test and push my limits. If you can hold your breath under water for 30 seconds, see if you can do it for a minute, then for however long (Good test for other things if you know what I mean, DR-O!) If you can make 25 baskets (basketball) in a row, go for 50, then 100, then more. If you can ride 25 miles, go for 50, then 100, then 200, then ride across America! And the beat goes on.

I didn’t have a “challenge ride” planned this year. I decided I wouldn’t ask Mr. SAG to support me on any out of town, long rides.  After all, he gave up half his summer last year to do just that.  I figured this year was for him to decide on vacation preferences, and I didn’t think it would involve an RV or a bike! But, alas, me being me, I suppose the challenge idea was always there in the back of my mind. And once I heard about Everesting a few years ago, it has been calling my name.

I’ve also learned that the fitness benefit of cycling alone, does not motivate me. I’ve ridden substantially fewer miles this year since I had no pressing goal out there driving me – until the last 2 months. It turns out I need to have a challenge in mind and commit to it and it really helps if I tie it to a specific cause or need (purpose). I fit nice and neatly into what research says about motivation.

So, Everesting it is. This weekend! I’ve picked a relatively small hill to ride (average 5% grade, half mile long/mile lap). I picked it because it is fairly close to home so Mr. SAG won’t need to hang out there all day (he’ll want to), it doesn’t have a lot of traffic, and the grade is reasonable enough where even I may be able to sustain multiple repeats (about 250). I’m not a climber, so this is definitely going to be a challenge! Mentally too, I suppose.

Henry Hill

For the cause part, I decided that since the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs were there for me with encouragement, food, shelter, and comfort/comic relief across the country last year, that I would support them this year. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry is near and dear to my heart. I am a handler on team Aaron Comfort Dog who is on staff at St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Napa, CA. He is one of over 120 Affiliate Comfort Dogs deployed by Lutheran Church Charities out of Northbrook, IL. They bring comfort to schools, nursing homes, hospitals, first responders, and families in need on a regular basis. And they deploy to areas having suffered tragic events whenever requested. They have been present after horrific school and other shootings, floods, fires, hurricanes, etc. They are often able to bring just a moment of happiness/normalcy to those who are hurting and it is a blessing to be a part of that. They never charge to go anywhere, but they do incur travel and living expenses, so I dedicate this ride to them and am raising funds to help them continue their good work. If you would like to help out, you can give directly through LCC, a church with a Comfort Dog on staff, or through this link to my Facebook fund raiser. 

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Check out Aaron and friends at work.

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“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” ~ Sir Edmund Hilary

Say a prayer or two for me this weekend! Whether I succeed or fall short, you can bet the farm that I will do it ALL IN!

Ride on!

 

This Is Me

Hi there. It’s been a while. I don’t like to write just to write and I haven’t had much to say that you haven’t heard, so I took a break. Now I’m ready to share part 2 of my story.

At this time last year, I was well into my adventure of a lifetime – my cross country cycling trip, raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis research. This year, I am continuing a different kind of journey. If you read part 1 of my story, you know that I worked hard over the last few years to recover my fitness levels of long ago. I’ve engaged in many hours of cycling, running and other cross training activities as well as making better nutritional choices. Kick starting all of that was a trip to the dentist. For my own very good reasons, I had not seen a dentist in over 40 years. You can imagine the level of periodontal disease that developed as a result of that choice. The fix ended up being the removal of all my teeth – March 6, 2014. I actually refer to that date as my second birthday because I believe my dentist literally saved my life and gave me back my “joie de vivre”. I no longer have my original teeth, but I do have my smile (and health) back!

This year, since I had no chosen events to train for, I decided to heed my dentist’s advice and take steps to prevent future bone loss of the jaw (something that typically happens over time when you don’t have the teeth roots stimulating bone growth). That meant implants for my upper jaw to help preserve the bone. I finished that process for my lower jaw prior to my epic ride. In order to place implants in my upper jaw, however, I had to first have some extensive bone grafting. I had already lost a significant amount of bone to resorption starting even prior to the teeth extractions. So, in February, I started the long process. I had bilateral horizontal ridge and sinus lift augmentations done through two separate procedures. There had to be a period of at least six weeks before any denture could be worn again. It turned out to be fourteen weeks for me because we chose to do the surgeries back to back. Fourteen weeks without upper teeth!

Last year, my ride showed me that there is still good in humanity. I had someone find and return my ID/cash pack. I had people donate to the cause. I had people looking out for my safety, offering food and water, and giving shelter in a storm. And I met wonderful, supportive teams of people who are part of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog ministry all across the country.Image 2018-06-05_17-00-54-447

This year, my dental adventure has shown me the same. I was worried about going to work (I have a very public job) and being seen outside my home without teeth. But once any bruising from the procedure went away, back to work went I.

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I don’t know what I was so worried about. No person over that time ever made me feel the least bit uncomfortable. If there was any conversation about it at all, it was more interest in the procedures themselves and the healing involved. No one snickered. No one looked aghast. No one pushed me to do anything if I showed any trepidation about it without question or judgement. I even met a large number of new people (hundreds). I am part of the LCC K9-Comfort Dog Ministry with Team Aaron Comfort Dog and deployed to speak and share the ministry at other congregations and schools, attended events and a large conference, and met with other teams at a regional gathering. I rode in a couple of large cycling events. And when I ate out at restaurants, no waiter or waitress ever had issue with my soft diet requests or substitutions. It turns out the only person who was concerned about being out and about with no upper teeth was me. Every other person I encountered was kind and supportive.

I do have my upper teeth back now. I smile again with abandon and it feels great! I’m back cycling and running and working on my next goals/adventures. Stay tuned as I figure them out. And later this year, after 6-8 months of healing, I’ll have the implants placed. I’ll be without teeth for a short time again, but I’m not worried!Image 2018-06-05_16-45-35-323

Lessons learned:

1- There are a whole lot of good humans out there!

2- Even without teeth, you can eat just about anything – blenders/hand blenders are great!

3- Everyone has something going on. They won’t judge you for yours.

4- Having oral surgery and being without teeth is a minor inconvenience. Cancer, heart disease, MS, ALS, strokes and clinical depression among others are real struggles.

5- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. God and people around you will lift you up.

6- Dr. J is my hero! Dr. V isn’t so bad either!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

Don’t Wait

“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up doing nothing for nobody.” ~Malcom Bane

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that a big part of my motivation to get out there and move in some way is the opportunity to raise awareness and funds for various causes. I love being able to keep my fitness levels up while helping others in little bits along the way.

Today I signed up for a run to help people with spinal cord injuries (SCI). I’ve had a yearning to help those with SCI for a long time. My first clinical internship was at St. Joseph’s Rehab Center in Elmira, NY, and I worked mainly with patients who had spinal cord injuries. I learned what self motivation is from a 16 year old who never gave up hope and I’ve never forgotten him. I signed up for the race last year, but the timing didn’t work out, so I didn’t make it. This year, though, they added the opportunity to join via an app! It’s the Wings for Life – World Run.  It takes place all over the world, starting at the exact same time, May 6, 11am UTC. For me, that will be 3 am. Everyone finishes too, since it has a unique format.  A half hour after the race starts, a moving finish line, the “Catcher Car,” chases runners along the course, gradually getting faster until each one is caught. If you participate by app, like I am, you’ll be chased by a Virtual Catcher Car at the same time as all the other runners around the globe.

Sound fun? Stay tuned – I may try and organize a group app run. If you’re not into running, I’ll be participating once again in the Great Cycle Challenge in June. Join me!

Song of the day:

Ride on!